The Sideshow

Artist arrested while hanging ‘I ♥ NY’ bags from streetlights, charged with ‘planting bombs’

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One of Miyakawa's installations (tmiyakawadesign.com)

An artist who installed illuminated plastic shopping bags emblazoned with the "I  ♥ NY" logo on lampposts in Brooklyn was arrested over the weekend, charged with "planting false bombs" and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Takeshi Miyakawa, the 50-year-old Tokyo-born artist, was arrested at 2 a.m. in Brooklyn while he was hanging one of the bags from a tree, according to his website. The NYPD bomb squad was alerted after a passerby noticed one of Miyakawa's installations on Friday morning and called to report "a suspicious package attached to a tree."

Police cleared the area for two hours, according to the Daily News. They later observed Miyakawa on top of a ladder with "an assembly consisting of a plastic box containing wires which was connected by a wire to a plastic bag containing a battery suspended from a metal rod."

The installation project was intended to be part of NY Design Week 2012.

On Sunday, a judge ordered Miyakawa held for a mental evaluation, "extending his detainment for an additional 30 days," his lawyer said.

A Facebook group called "Free Takeshi Miyakawa" launched within hours of the judge's ruling. It was more than 1,200 members.

"Takeshi loves New York, he loves this city," Louis Lim, Miyakawa's friend, told Gothamist.com. "All his installations are nonevasive. He doesn't drill into things ... We had no idea that his designs were being misinterpreted at this level. And if anything he does offends or bothers anyone, Takeshi always apologizes profusely. He's very traditional that way."

According to Gothamist, the person who purportedly reported Miyakawa to police did not intend to: "I called 311 asking how to get that thing off my tree, if it was my responsibility or the city's ... the 311 woman put me through to 911 then the cops came. I left for work."

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